Shake4mike campaign leads to 650% increase in stem cell donor registrations
Charlie Cooper is Health Correspondent for The Independent, i, and The Independent on Sunday, writing on the NHS, medical advances, and international health. Since joining the papers as an editorial assistant, he has been nominated for young journalist of the year at both the Press Awards and the British Journalism Awards.
Tuesday 13 May 2014
One woman’s appeal to find a stem cell donor for her fiancé has led to an “unprecedented” 650 per cent increase in the number of people signing up to the Anthony Nolan donor register.
More than 7,000 people have joined the register in little more than a week – compared to less than 1,000 for the same period last year – since Kate Robertson, 31, began a campaign to find a donor for her fiancé Mike Brandon, 29, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in March.
The campaign – Shake4Mike – encourages friends and supporters to post a picture of themselves "shaking their face at cancer" on social media, and to register on the Anthony Nolan register of stem cell and bone marrow donors.
Visits to Anthony Nolan’s website have also shot up, by 400 per cent, with a huge number of visits from Bristol, Mr Brandon and Ms Robertson’s hometown.
Ann O’Leary, head of register development at Anthony Nolan, said it would normally take more than two months to sign up so many people.
The charity still urgently needs more people aged 16 to 30 to sign up.
Only one in every 1,000 people on the register is likely a become donor. Stem cell transplants, which have largely replaced bone marrow transplants as treatments of last resort for blood cancers, are pain-free and simple procedures for donors.
Ms Robertson said the support had been “absolutely overwhelming”.
“This is an incredibly difficult time for everyone involved. Knowing that there is so much support out there and to be able to visibly see the results of what we are trying to achieve has lifted everyone’s spirits,” she said.
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